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Neck through, Bolt on? For strong lows and mids

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by DaveCustomMade, Feb 17, 2006.

  1. Just curious as to which is better for stronger lows and mids, a bolt on, or a neck through?

    If it's more than that, in other words, if it has to do with types of body and neck woods, you can add your thoughts here too.

  2. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    It depends on a lot of factors. Woods make a pretty big difference as does electronics. I find that bolt on with maple, alder body, and p/j setup gets tons of lows and mids. But, it also depends a lot on the strings, and the player. I get all kinds of low-mid growl out of my new peavey foundation s. Really a fantastic bass.
  3. In MY opinion, the difference between the construction methods is that a neck-through has neck wood (maple or whatever) through the center of the body. That part of the body makes the most difference on tone. The neck-through has a hard, stiff wood there, and a bolt-on has a softer, lighter, more resonant wood. How the neck is attached (bolted vs glued vs single piece through) makes less difference than what the wood in the body center is.

    The hard body wood of a neck-through tends (key word there) to give more emphasis on the fundamental tone of the note, and sustain more. Softer wood will tend to emphasize the attack and harmonics more.

    Pickup placement makes a difference. Pickup type makes a difference. Others have done a lot of work there, go look in that forum. Still, I find that a bass will sound like itself no matter what pickups, just with a different flavor to that basic tone.

    (the biggest tonal difference I have found: frets vs no frets)
  4. Well, let's work under those premises. The neck I'd be getting would be something like:

    5 Piece neck through. Australian Blackwood center, Wenge strings, and Zebrawood sides.

    If I went with a bolt on, the body would be something like Black Korina . . the neck probably maple or if I could find some stable Black Korina for the neck as well.

    Again, I'm interested in a sound that's more "wood-ish", something similar to the tone of what you get in a good fretless, such as Gary Willis.

    This will be a fretted bass, but I'm wanting to use small frets such as Warmoth's 6130 sized frets.
  5. How about this setup: Again, for a warm tone...

    Mahogany body, quilted maple top, maple neck, pau ferro fingerboard....
  6. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    WInter Garden, FL
    I own both, work in a shop that at one time did both, and have discussed this topic with a few fellow builders (Mike Tobias in particular).

    I find that a neck thru construction bass tends to be VERY bright, and have a very solid fundamental, but be a bit "thin" sounding overall, and lacking in mids, low mids in particular (which are the "punch" frequencies).

    Bolt-ons don't have quite the "snappy" top end, and the fundamental isn't quite as strong, but for some reason, they have VERY solid low mids typically.

    I used to be a big neck thru guy, but as my tastes have become more "refined", I find I much prefer the sound of a good bolt on neck. Neck thru construction is almost "too clear" to me, every nuance of your playing can be exposed, and that isn't necessarily a good thing (just like a beautiful woman wearing "just enough" clothing can be more alluring than one that is completely nude - "concealing to appeal" ;) ).

    As for issues of sustain, I firmly believe that a good bolt on neck joint will sustain equally with a neck through.

    Based on what you're going for Dave, I'd go bolt on, it'll get you that tone more readily than a neck thru, but that's just my opinion, of course! :D
  7. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    It is interesting how everyone perceives things differently. I have always felt that to my ears nt's had a warmer mellowersound whereas b/o's had a punchier snappier tone.
    I do think the top wood on the bass makes a big difference in tone .

    Just IMO of course.
  8. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I'd also olike to add that the perception that nt's are "better" than b/o's is in my opinion unfounded .They both have certain qualities that players are lookinf for and it really just depends on taste.
  9. Hmmmmm. . . . differing opinions here. No help at all. :p :smug:

    Just kidding. It is a big help still. Thanks for the comments! Though, we should probably resolve this issue of whether NT or Bolt On is warmer. :)

    More please!! :D
  10. Phil Mastro

    Phil Mastro

    Nov 18, 2004
    That's what I thought too. But then again, Gard is no dufus... hey that rhymes. He obviously knows what he's talking about.

    I have a fretless neckthrough (padouk) and it sounds warmer than a similar bolt-on with a padouk neck. The BO doesn't have a padouk body though... that sounds like a good test though, 2 basses, one NT, one BO, both have same body wood as neckwood. I don't have time to do this, but if somebody else does, go ahead :D
  11. Well, this is interesting. I'm just not sure which direction to go now. :help:
  12. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I was by no means trying to contradict Gard, just giving my point of view :)
  13. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    WInter Garden, FL
    Hey, contradict away! ;)

    ....keep in mind that the two neck through basses I am referring to having personally are both maple/wenge necks, pau ferro fingerboards, koa tops, and semi hollow soft maple bodies - one is fretted, one is fretless, both have EMG DC's and BQC preamps.

    This may, or may not, skew my opinion.

    (However, I had access to a LOT of basses while I worked at Bass Central, and that did give me a lot of time to compare a LOT of basses! :) )
  14. By the way, Gard, the bass in your Avatar is simply beautiful!

    Anyway, I wonder if this thread should be moved to the Bass forum (for more coverage) or perhaps there's been another thread about it before (couldn't find it in the search). :confused:
  15. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    WInter Garden, FL
    Dave, thanks. There's a thread here in the Luthier's Corner on it, photos from the raw wood to finished product.

    I have to say the guys here in the shop are utterly astoundingly good at what they do! Functional art!!
  16. callmeMrThumbs

    callmeMrThumbs Guest

    Oct 6, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    I recently just checked out Nordstrand's site, and there was a little thing about how he had made three identical basses: same wood, same electronics, same finish, same everything. Yet...they all sounded a little different! I'm sure if one was made entirely of walnut, and the other entirely of maple the difference would be more clearly heard, but my point is...There are fresher oranges, and sweeter apples. In other words...yer gonna hafta experiment...hehe.

  17. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    IMHO and IME. Forget about neck joint construction. As long as each techniqe is well executed, results are good and it would be pretty hard to define drastic changes on sound.

    If you want to achieve strong lows and mids, think about pickup placement, pickup type and electronics. Chances are biger that you reach your goal easier this way.

    Juts my 2 "€uro" cents.

  18. Well, I plan on getting the electronics through bestbassgear.com which will consist of the Bartolini G6 shape (Hum-cancelling split coil - Deep Tone) . . . or the Bartolini EMG45 shape (again the Hum-cancelling split coil - Deep Tone ).

    I am tending to lean more towards the G6 shape. I already have a couple of basses with the "fatter" soapbar shape.

    The electronics will be (again from the same place) the Bartolini 5.2 A/P, which is a 3 band eq.
  19. Did we ever resolve which setup has the better mids? Should this thread be moved to another section for more "traffic"?